It's not a complete surprise that the Bears were expected to win against the Packers. After all, Green Bay was playing backups for most of the afternoon and had already secured their place in the playoffs. There was nothing at all at stake for the Green Bay. What Chicago was playing for was pride.
Brett Favre stayed in long enough to get his 4,000 total yards, and then he was pulled out in favor of Craig Nall. Yet Nall looked like a first stringer when put against the Bears defense. Within four plays, he drove the Packers in for a touchdown. It appeared to be effortless.
Things went even further downhill for the Bears from that point on. And here's a frightening thought. What would the final score possibly have been if the Bears had been up against the Packer regulars? I don't think any of us want the answer to that question.
As has been the case recently, Chicago's offense was simply awful. And I don't lay the blame for the disaster on Chad Hutchinson. It's hard for any quarterback, no matter how skilled or experienced, to do anything when he has no time to make good decisions. Nine sacks, that's unbelievable. Hutchinson was in fear for his life every single time he was handed the ball. That brings me to my next point, the offensive line, or the lack thereof.
Watching the game yesterday, it was clear that the men up front for the Bears were simply taking up space on the field. I saw no blocking; no heads up play at all. It looked as if they had completely given up. An example: The Packers blew by Marc Colombo three separate times for sacks. And this is one of the players that is supposed to be the hope for the future?
The receivers ran poor routes and never seemed to be in sync with the quarterback. Surprisingly, David Terrell had a relatively productive day. His long catch during the opening minutes is what we'd been hoping to see from him all season. I guess he rises to the occasion early in the year, as he did against Detroit in September, then comes back once more to show what he can do as the season is ending. It is those games in between that have me concerned.
What about Terry Shea? Over and over we've seen consistently poor play calling. How can you call a run on third down and 8? Screens and fakes that all of the defenders can see miles away? His schemes may have worked for Kansas City, but Terry, you're not in Kansas anymore. Yes, the team is young and inexperienced. There have been way too many injuries, but Shea should be helping them overcome these problems, not adding to the burden.
What about Lovie Smith? It's too soon to lay this on him. He came and took what he was given as far as talent was concerned. Looking at the record book, it isn't unusual for the Bears to have a losing season during a head coach's first year, so we'll give him a pass on that. But next year, there should be some sort of a positive turnaround if Lovie hopes to hold on to his position.
Where does the responsibility lie for the disaster that this season became? I'd put it squarely at the top of the Bears organization. I'm not talking about the McCaskeys. Their job is to own, which is a function they have fulfilled. Ted Phillips is responsible in the fact that he gave GM Jerry Angelo that contract extension a year ago. I questioned that decision at the time, and do so even more now.
Remember Angelo telling us last spring that he was willing to take the responsibility for whatever happened this year? I certainly do. Well, Jerry, this is on your shoulders. What are you going to do about it?
All along Jerry has told the media and the Bears fans that he ‘has a plan for this club.' We're still waiting. If this is your idea of a plan, Jerry, then we're all in deeper trouble than we'd imagined. You've got the worst team in the league right now. You can try to share the blame for 2004,but it's all going to come right back onto your shoulders. Do Phillips and the McCaskeys have blinders on? Can't they see what you've done to this team, and are they going to do anything about it?
I certainly hope so because asking loyal Bears fans to pay $65 and up for tickets to watch a game that turns out to be a complete joke just isn't right. You owe these fans hard fought football that honors the tradition of this team. Anything less is an insult to those who support the Bears.